on December 15, 2010 | 8:17 am | 4 Comments

By Maria Chiara Mastrogiacomo

Napoli Unplugged Contributor Maria Chiara Mastrogiacomo

Struffoli, tiny deep fried dough balls bathed in a syrup of honey and citrus rinds and decorated with colored Jordan almonds and sprinkles and candied fruit. Struffoli are to the Neapolitan Christmas what pumpkin pie is to the American Thanksgiving. It’s just not Christmas in Naples without it.

Struffoli is said to date back to the Greeks in the time of Partenope, but when it became a Christmas tradition is not as clear. Regardless, struffoli adorn every Neapolitan’s Christmas table and are still by and large made by hand at home. Big batches piled high on disposable plastic pie plates, always making enough to give to friends and family.

Joining the Napoli Unplugged pages with her family’s recipe is Maria Chiara Mastrogiacomo who along with her sister runs one of the best little hotels in Naples, Hotel il Convento.

Struffoli Recipe

Looking on the web for a struffoli recipe I found several, all with an elaborate mixture. The following recipe on the contrary, has a simple mixture and guaranteed success!


Neapolitan Struffoli

Dough Ingredients

500 grams of flour
5 eggs

Sauce Ingredients

300 grams honey (about)
100 grams sugar
Peels of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, tangerines), cut into tiny pieces (see note below)


Colored Jordan almonds
Colored Sprinkles
Candied Citrus Peels

Prepare the Dough

Put the flour into a bowl and make a mound. Add the eggs and mix until you have a soft dough. Wrap it in a cloth (cutting struffoli takes time and the mixture tends to dry out when it is exposed to air for too long)Neapolitan Struffoli - Preparing the Dough

Prepare the Struffoli

Cut a piece of dough (be careful to leave the rest wrapped in the cloth) and roll it with your hands into a thin round strip. Cut the strip into small pieces (when frying struffoli they will double in volume). Put the struffoli on a plate dusted with flour (do not worry if some stick together, they will break apart when you fry them)

Fry the Struffoli

If you have a fryer you can use that, otherwise use a large saucepan.

Heat the oil and fry the struffoli a little at a time until they are golden brown. During the frying some foam may begin to appear and you will want to remove it when it becomes excessive.

Remove the cooked struffoli with a slotted spoon and place them on a tray covered with paper towels.

Prepare the Sauce

In a large saucepan heat the sugar and half of the honey (use a low heat to prevent the honey from burning). When the honey is melted add all of the struffoli in stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. While continuing to stir add the remaining honey and the citrus peels. When the struffoli and honey are blended, turn off the heat and put them onto a serving plate. Decorate with the colored Jordan almonds, sprinkles and candied citrus peels.

N. B.

In this recipe, the flavor comes from the citrus peels, so make sure to have enough peels (for this I would say that the ideal amount would be at least 2 oranges, 1 lemon and 7 or 8 mandarins) cut very small. It’s better to do it the day before preparing the struNeapolitan Struffoliffoli (you’ll find that it takes a long time and a lot of patience!). It’s useless to attempt to speed up the process using machines or graters as the result will be a sauce that does not produce the right effect. These peels joining with the honey and sugar become almost like candied fruit, only much more tasty and fragrant!

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Maria Chiara was born in Naples in 1980. She manages a charming hotel, Hotel Il Convento in the historical centre of the city. Her passion for cooking and hospitality lead her to suggest typical Neapolitan recipes. Though she doesn’t consider herself the best cook, the recipes (all of family tradition) give very tasty results!

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Passionate about my adopted home, for me Naples is the perfect canvas. From its breathtaking vistas to its rich cultural heritage, I could live here a lifetime and never see it all, photograph it all, or write about it all.

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4 reviews

  1. jenny, August 18, 2013 8:52 am - Struffoli

    good job

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  2. Joanne Myers, September 1, 2013 3:17 am - Struffoli

    My grandmother was born in Naples and would make stufoli every Christmas. I never got her recipe and just wanted to know if these come out hard and crunchy because that’s how hers came out

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      Bonnie, September 8, 2013 11:43 am - Struffoli

      They should come out crunchy on the outside, though how they will compare to your Grandmother’s, I couldn’t say for sure. You should give them a try and see 🙂

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  3. Joanne, December 10, 2013 11:16 pm - Struffoli

    Bonnie, my first attempt at stuffoli was a big failure. They ended up looking like toasted popcorn. The dough rolled easily enough but when I put them in the oil, the dough separated and looked like popcorn kernels. HELP!!!!!!!! I really want to make these for Christmas. What did I do wrong?

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      Bonnie Alberts, December 12, 2013 9:37 am - Struffoli

      Hi Joanne – my best guess is that your dough wasn’t stiff enough – meaning you used to much liquid (eggs) for the amount of flour.

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  4. Sarah Salzman, December 29, 2013 7:20 pm - Struffoli

    Every time I fry my struffoli, my oil runs over the outside of the pan–sometimes causing a stove fire. I’m afraid to make them because of this problem. I generally use canola oil.
    What to do?

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      Bonnie Alberts, January 6, 2014 4:36 pm - Struffoli

      You might want to try using less oil or a larger pan with the same amount of oil.

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